Strategic Funding for the Modern Workforce

Carrington Hall

Bachelor’s degrees continue to provide the most reliable educational pathway for the modern workforce. Missouri State University has a strong record of meeting this workforce need by producing graduates with useful skills and credentials at an affordable cost.

Despite its strong reputation and performance, Missouri State University receives less state funds per student than any other university in the state. This threatens Missouri State’s ability to continue to grow its student body and deliver the workforce needed for Missouri’s economy to flourish.

Modern workforce needs

The world is changing and the workforce must adapt to meet the needs of the economy. The evidence is clear that investment in bachelor’s degree programs provides the best educational pathway for people to earn a living and thrive in the modern economy.

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce recently released a report titled “Three Educational Pathways to Good Jobs: High School, Middle Skills and Bachelor’s Degree.” The high school pathway includes workers with a high school diploma or less. The middle skills pathway includes workers with more than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree. The bachelor’s degree pathway includes workers with bachelor’s degrees or higher.

The study evaluated the educational pathways that lead to “good jobs” based on U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics population surveys. The study defined “good jobs” as those paying a minimum of $35,000 for workers between the ages of 25 and 44 and at least $45,000 for workers between the ages of 45 and 64.

The results indicate that a high school pathway led to 20 percent of good jobs, a middle-skills pathway led to 24 percent of good jobs and a bachelor’s degree pathway led to 56 percent of good jobs. The study also found median earnings of $56,000 for workers in good jobs without a bachelor’s degree and $75,000 for workers in good jobs with a bachelor’s degree—a $19,000 difference. (see Figure 1)

Source: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, 1992-2017.

The results of this study are consistent with the work completed by the Talent for Tomorrow task force and other studies, analyses and assessments.

The study also noticed a shift starting in the early 1990s. Since 1991, good jobs in skilled services for workers with at least a bachelor’s degree more than doubled, while good blue-collar jobs for workers with a high school diploma shrank. In the end, all of the net losses in good jobs since 1991 were suffered by workers with a high school diploma or less.

Source: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, 1992-2017.

Since the Great Recession, automation and globalization have continued to move the United States from an industrial economy, in which two-thirds of the entry-level jobs required a high school diploma or less, to a postindustrial economy, in which two in three jobs require at least some education or training beyond high school.

More good jobs go to workers with bachelor’s degrees than to workers without them. Moreover, the number of good jobs requiring a postsecondary education continues to increase while the number of good jobs that do not require post-secondary education continues to decrease.

In a modern economy, a bachelor’s degree continues to be the most reliable pathway to the middle class, and people with bachelor’s degrees consistently out earn those without bachelor’s degrees. Accordingly, strategic investment in bachelor’s degree attainment for the workforce should continue to be a critical component of Missouri’s economic development plan.

Missouri State University's strong record of success at meeting workforce needs

Missouri State University has a strong reputation for meeting the economy’s need for an educated workforce. Missouri State enrolls tens of thousands of students each year, graduates those students with meaningful credentials and places graduates in the workforce all while maintaining affordability.

Enrollment

Enrollment has increased at Missouri State—rising by more than 30 percent since 2001. Missouri State University now enrolls more students from Missouri than any other university in the state.

MSU graduates in cap and gown at their graduation ceremony

Degrees and credentials

The number of degrees and certificates awarded at Missouri State has increased even faster than enrollment.

Figure 4: MSU degrees and certificates
  FY2013 FY2014 FY2015 FY2016 FY2017 FY2018
Degrees awarded 4,157 4,246 4,306 4,359 4,634 4,723
Certificates awarded 13 138 173 282 301 461
Total 4,287 4,384 4,479 4,641 4,935 5,184

Graduate outcomes

Missouri State graduates are successful at finding jobs. Last year 92 percent of our recent graduates provided information about their employment status. Of that 92 percent, 89.3 percent were employed, enrolled in continuing education, enlisted in the military or the like within 6 months after graduation. Another 2 percent were planning to continue their education but had not yet enrolled in a program, leaving only 8.7 percent who were still seeking employment 6 months after they graduated.

Affordability

Missouri State’s undergraduate tuition and fees are among the lowest of the state’s public four-year universities. 

Figure 6: Undergraduate in-state tuition and fees
Institution name 2018–19
U of Missouri - St. Louis $10,377
Missouri U of Science and Technology $9,944
U of Missouri - Columbia $9,879
U of Missouri - Kansas City $9,877
Northwest Missouri State U $9,805
Truman State U $7,749
Lincoln U $7,632
U of Central Missouri $7,593
Southeast Missouri State U $7,418
Missouri State U $7,376
Missouri Western State U $6,910
Missouri Southern State U $6,667
Harris-Stowe State U $6,138

Source: Missouri Department of Higher Education, Research and Data

In fiscal year 2019, Missouri State’s in-state tuition and fees were 28 percent below the average for public universities in the United States.

Sources: College Board and Missouri Department of Higher Education, Research and Data

Financial pressures

Higher education appropriations in Missouri have been inconsistent over the last two decades. Missouri State receives less state funding now than it received in 2001.

Over this same period, enrollment has increased by more than 6,000 students. The result is that appropriations per student at Missouri State have decreased significantly.

In FY2018, Missouri State received $4,255 in state appropriations per full time equivalent student. The state average is $6,271 and the national average is $7,640.

Due to disparities in appropriations per student within the state budget, Missouri State University is the lowest funded of all the public universities in the state.

Figure 9: Appropriations per FTE student
Institution name FY2018 appropriations per FTE student
Lincoln U $9,764
Harris-Stowe State U $7,545
Truman State U $7,417
U of Missouri System $7,373
U of Central Missouri $5,739
Northwest Missouri State U $5,678
Missouri Western State U $5,215
Southeast Missouri State U $4,987
Missouri Southern State U $4,740
Missouri State U $4,255

Source: This table uses calculations received from staff at the Missouri Department of Higher Education based on FY2018 appropriations and enrollment data. FY2019 data will not be available until after this document has been printed.

Each year that the state does not account for enrollment changes in its funding decisions, the disparity grows larger and larger.

Based on FY2018 enrollment and appropriations data, it would require an increase in operating appropriation of more than $9.5 million to bring Missouri State’s per student state funding level up to the next lowest university, and an increase of $39.8 million to bring Missouri State to the state average. Due to enrollment trends, the disparity for FY2019 will be even larger.

COPHE (the Council on Public Higher Education, the public university association in Missouri) has developed an equity funding model that weights credit hour production by cost variables for academic programs and by the proportion of students that are Pell eligible. Under this weighted model, Missouri State University is the second lowest funded of all public universities in the state. The model rates the University of Missouri System lower due to the cost variables associated with their graduate and professional programs. For example, each credit hour of enrollment in a dentistry, medicine or veterinary program is counted more than 18 times, while each credit hour of enrollment in a level 100 or 200 math, language or technology class is counted only once.

Figure 10: Appropriations per weighted FTE student
Institution name Appropriations per weighted FTE student
Harris-Stowe State U $3,601
Truman State U $3,360
Lincoln U $3,268
Missouri Western State U $2,347
Northwest Missouri State U $2,327
Southeast Missouri State U $2,054
Missouri Southern State U $2,014
U of Central Missouri $1,957
Missouri State U $1,860
U of Missouri System $1,835

Under this model, it would require an increase in operating appropriation of almost $4.4 million to bring Missouri State’s weighted per student funding level up to the next institution, and it would require an increase of $14.9 million to bring Missouri State’s level up to the average appropriation per weighted FTE student in the state.

Strategic investment

State resources are scant, and decisions to invest in higher education through equal percentage increases broadly applied to all institutions are no longer appropriate. Outcome-based and equitable considerations should inform the state’s decisions on where to invest new money.

Bold investment decisions must be made. Given Missouri State’s record of success and disfavored treatment in the state budget, these bold decisions should result in a substantial increase in the state’s investment in Missouri State University.